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Ravenloft

OP
Black_Out

Black_Out

Purveyor of Dark Delights
Joined
Jul 9, 2018
Meanwhile on the southern fringes of the village another nightly routine was just starting to unfold at the Burgomaster's isolated estate.


He could hear the pattering of rain upon the rooftop starting to lessen in severity. But as that drumming began to recede new sounds were there to fill up the void their parting left. To Elrick Vahnderi, the sounds closing in around the old stone manor were as plentiful, voracious, and unholy as any other night in the stoic senior guards recent memory. Evil had seemed to sense their vulnerability not long after Ismark had taken the sacred relic that had kept them safe for so long. It had always been at Ireena's side, but shortly after his father had left on his quest Ismark demanded that his father would need it more. As a servant of the manor Elrick couldn't quite argue with Ismark's logic at that moment even if he wanted to. His voice carried no weight in such matters. But now, nearly a month later he often wondered if their dooms had been sealed by the son of the Burgomaster when he left with the Sun Symbol. He wouldn't, couldn't let his mind linger on those sobering thoughts, not if he was to survive the night. For as long as he lived and breathed he would honor the Burgomaster's wishes and keep the lady Ireena safe from the devil that had hunted her for so long.

Elrick stood before the closed balcony doors with his ear turned towards the narrow gap between them as if listening for something hidden within the pack of howling wolves just outside. They were stalking, circling the manor and steadily closing in. Even if he dared look out their approach was masked by the heavy fog that clung to Barovia like a thirsty babe to its mothers breast. The crunch and shifting of grasses and weeds and the subtle snort of their breaths were the best method to track just how close they were drawing to the manors walls and boarded up windows. His dusky brown eyes swept about the room, examining the shuttered windows and the strands of garlic that hung from every entry way into the regal gloom of this second story bedroom. As satisfied with the wards as he could manage to be he glanced upon the captivating blonde woman situated nearby in her candle lit bed chamber. Ireena Kolyana was her name, the adopted daughter of the Burgomaster and she was the prey of something most foul.

Despite their similarity in age, Ireena still looked vibrant and youthful as the years had been graceful to her, unlike Elrick. Grey streaked the guards short crop of dulled brown hair and the worn and weathered look to his face spoke volumes about how the passing years had sapped the virility from his form. He wore a ragged dark blue cloth vest that covered a well kept shirt of chainmail that draped over the tops of his thighs. Dulled black leather leggings worked downward from there and met with his calf high heavy brown leather boots. In his nicked up hand rested an ornate ivory handle and guard that led to a brilliant piece of silver coated metal in the shape of a rapier. It was a weapon that Elrick had trained with for countless years, and he was quite proficient with it, much to his sparring partners dismay.

The random surges in the strength of the sieges upon the house of the Burgomaster had taken their toll. Over the nightmare that was nearly a month old several of the manors guards had fallen in the line of duty. Now there was but one sparring partner left to keep Elrick sharp and at the ready. Andrei Constantin had certainly proven to be worthy of the value that Koylan had seen in the young lad when he first had arrived at the manors door that fateful night so many years ago. Elrick had come to be most impressed not only with the towering tall man Andrei had become but the manner with which he carried himself. The noble knight that had come to Barovia so many years ago, when Elrick's hair was longer and his face far more youthful, had left an impression upon the maturing youth that was Andrei. In fact Sir Leo deGrey had left an impression on everyone in the manor. Most notably the young lady Ireena whose beauty had enthralled the noble warrior.

It was as if the clouds had dared to part and let the sun shine into Barovia back then. The silver weapons he had left with them, the symbol of the sun god, and the long blade that seemed to blaze with the light of the sun itself infected all with a sense of hope. A hope that the centuries and centuries of horror and oppression might finally come to an end. How terrible it was to have that hope dashed to shreds when Sir Leo deGrey left for Castle Ravenloft only to never be seen again.

Once more Elrick silently chastised himself for letting those thoughts wander through the depths of his thoughts as he paced about the room. But memories of sorrow and woe were all to abundant in the realm of Barovia and such moments of melancholy were neigh impossible to avoid. Finally he turned towards his compatriot and looked up towards the lofty eyes of Andrei. "The night is upon us Andrei." The words started with a sigh but finished with boldness and determination as Elrick extended his arm and grasped the other guards forearm. "Lathanders light be at your side." His duty bound eyes locked with Andrei's. "Keep the barricades downstairs secure, remember use the spears through the gaps to keep them back." He let his hand slip away from the brotherly embrace. "Use the oil sparingly, we're running low, who knows when the gypsies might bring more into town." His eyes moved from Andrei's and over to where the Lady Ireena was. "If they break in, draw back to the room, we'll hold here. I pray I see your smiling face in the morning Andrei." Elrick dipped his head towards his brother in arms before shifting his stance towards Ireena. "M'lady we are at your service as always."
 

Lady Bloody Ava

Ravenclaw Prefect
Supporter
Joined
Jun 25, 2010
Location
Hogwarts
Night after night, this endless cycle of all pervading trepidation loomed over Barovia like a vengeful demon. Ireena Kolyana had all but given up hope and where happiness came; dismay followed. This life had already cost the daughter of the Burgomaster so much; the love of her life and of her beautiful twin daughters. The flames of her humble soul flickered like a candle, however, torrential winds threatened to snuff out that gentle spark at any moment. The adoration and emotional support of her father was the foundation that provided the footing needed to trudge on through the bleak abyss that was her life. Kolyan Indirovich found the golden-haired girl at the edge of the forest and took her in without a second thought. A waterfall of blonde hair that put thread itself to shame framed that angelic face as she shook those beautiful and haunting memories aside.

A mossy green gown clung to the demure and supple upper body of the regal looking woman before flaring out to a pool of fabric around slender hidden feet. Around a seductive, salacious collarbone that resembled a butterflies' wings - graceful and curved, Ireena hung a string of leather gifted to her by Sir Leo DeGrey, himself. Often slender fingers can be seen fiddling with the pure silver heart-shaped pendant when in deep thought. Tempered amber eyes gazed upon the soft surface of the bed as the men spoke in the background.

"It is that time again." Ireena whispered as she took a moment to stare at the men as they finished their sullen conversations about defense, macabre subjects and the final plans should the worst happen. Ornate and stunning pieces of furniture adorned the noble and yet simple ornate room where she was to rest her head.

It too was a degree of effort to not feel sick to know that even a single person's life was lost protecting her own life, even if it was on her own father's orders. Now there were only two. How could her mind not wonder just which one would inevitably be next? Inwardly, Ireena scolded herself and tossed a sweet and lax smile to Elrick and Andrei. "Stay safe." The sign of the cross was made by touching a hand sequentially to her forehead, lower chest, and both shoulders in a silent prayer for the remaining guards who diligently and valiantly faced death at their very doorstep. A slight nod acknowledged Sir Elrick's word with a humble smile and heavy sigh.

"There is no end in sight, is there?" Ireena asked this rhetorical question wistfully as she gazed off into the distance. The howls from hell that came from beyond the walls broke the serenity and safety of the room. The sounds of their nights contrasted against the pure and silvery sound of Lady Kolyana's natural voice. "It is early in the night Elrick, please do not insist that I sleep soundly, if at all. No matter the number of guards, I will still worry." The frustration could not have been more barefaced even if she groaned as loudly as she wanted to. "I've every mind to leave these suffocating walls and drag my imbecilic brother home. He is probably hugging on a bottle of cheap wine and curled up in a corner in a drunken stupor at the Vine. " Despite such harsh words, there was a moment to think. Hell... there was more than enough time to think considering there was not much else to do other than hope to see another day while feeling as defenseless as a newborn lamb.

"Speak the truth..." Ireena turned away, her eyes showed a side to her normal stoic strength she had not shown in years. A quiet vulnerability that seemed almost forgotten after all these years, she rested her seemingly frail form against the wall as she hugged her self as her voice quivered. "Am I selfish? Selfish for wanting my brother and father at my side in such a dangerous moment? Do not think me vainglorious since there is absolutely nothing glorious about it all." A crude, short laugh and a half a smile broke the shell of a perverted visage of madness or was it more of a more composed nature, "But I see no place more dangerous than at my side. For this very reason, be it true, I can not blame them at all. It was the only reason I agreed to send Esperanza and Katya away from Barovia."
 

TheCorsair

Pulsar
Joined
Dec 17, 2013
Erlick’s words were clearly cold comfort to the distressed lady of the house. There was controlled fear in her speech, fear and bitterness and longing. A tone Andrei recognized, when he spoke of his own losses. “If I may, my lady?”

She acknowledged him with a single nod, which he took as permission to speak. “I hear no selfishness, Lady Ireena. Merely a wish for loved ones around you in a time of crisis. And,” he added with s wry smile, “a desire for one or two more skilled sword-arms.”

He tried to maintain his smile, remembering more innocent days when he could cheer his adopted older sister with his antics. But he was no longer a child, and the grin faded to seriousness as the wolves howled beyond the walls. “But you may count on us, Lady Ireena. Elrick and I... we will not fail you. You will see my smiling face, come the dawn’s first light. Both of you.”

With that he bowed and saluted, first to Elrick and then to Ireena, his right fist thumping against his left breast. Without further words he turned and marched away.

Marched. Because it was easier to control the fear that way.

Wolves howled outside, the eerie sound echoing through the darkened halls of the manor. He and Elrick had elected to keep them dark, to save precious oil and to make it easier to watch the wolves outside. Night after night they came, circling the manor like an army of fiends, probing their defenses. A dozen men were dead because of them, lives cut short by their fangs. Now he and Elrick were the last, the only hope the Lady Ireena had for salvation.

Unless Ismark returned with help. But that would require hope, and the supply of hope was as dwindled as the supply of lamp oil.

At the base of the great stairs, Andrei collected a spear from a wall rack. Then he began his methodical circuit of the first floor, checking the barricades on the doors and the boards that covered the windows. More than once he had found them loosened, as if someone within the house were aiding the wolves. More than once, men had died because of the apparent sabotage. But that was madness, thinking of it that way. Only he and Elrick and Ireena remained. The loosening was simply the effects of the nightly assaults of the wolves.

Pausing at a loophole, he peered into the darkness. A shape peered back, eyes burning green in the moonlight. “Stay there,” he breathed, gripping the shaft of his spear. “Stay there, you bastard.”
 

Touch Of Temperament

Super-Earth
Joined
Dec 29, 2012
A man emerged from the shadows. Rich from what she could glean from his clothes. Rich.. and very intoxicated. As soon as the drunk had mentioned that he was the Burgomaster's son, Katya had risen from her seat. She didn't care if she was giving herself away. There were answers to be gained from him. Which was the real Burgomaster's handwriting? Which letter was real? More and more she suspected that she had been had. By the look of this place and her luck lately, the body at the gate would have had to have been the Burgomaster, if he had indeed gone for help. The letter she had received had then most likely been false, luring her here for unknown reasons.

Still she would have ask to know for sure. And in this state he'd be an easy target to talk to. Although she needed him sober to verify anything said while he was this deep in his cups. Whatever the truth, something wasn't right about any of this.

Just as she slinked towards him, following the drunk to the bar where he approached Esperanza, he seemed to freak out at the sight of her, at the sight of them. Assuming the girls to be sisters, he mentioned someone who might be their mother. And that they weren't supposed to be here. Once again Katya was sceptical, one eyebrow rising in pure sass. She didn't have a family, even the orphanage hadn't known anything about her history. Mother, sister. Theoretical concepts she might have dreamed of as a child, but life had taught her that dreams never got her anywhere. And then she couldn't shake the fact that she and Esperanza did look eerily alike..

Before she could even say a single word, two of the gypsies cut her off. From their tone to their posture, it was obvious she wouldn't be making any friends if she pushed on this one. Gritting her teeth she watched them drag him upstairs like heavy luggage. No getting to him now. She would have to try in the morning.

Turning on her heel, she faced the other girl. Of course the human boulder was already by Esperanza's side. His loyalty was commendable, as well as overbearing. Not Katya's problem though. With another stride she reached the bar, her fingers falling casually on the room key. Deciding to play along to the drunk's assumptions she said. "Perhaps we should take our meal up in our room, dear sister. Then we can also change into something dry." Her dark eyes flicked up to meet the identical pair in Espie's face. Unease still filled her at their uncanny resemblance, but she refused to let it show. This was what she should've done before she even left Krotice. It was time they talk. Preferably alone.

Katya took the bottle of wine in one hand and the key in the other. "Maybe you can get to know the locals a little better." She suggested to Xavier. Offering up a charming smile, much like his charge. Even as she knew he wouldn't be happy about this. He hadn't let the girl out of his sight since they started this journey. Esperanza would have to set her boundaries this time. Turning towards the stairs, she glanced at her look alike over her shoulder. "Ready?"
 

BennyQ

Supporter
Supporter
Joined
Nov 3, 2013
Location
Canada
Name: Valery Bucren.
Location: Blood on the Vine, tavern of Boravia.
Tagging: Xavier (xavierrol), Esperanza (xanaphia), Katya (Touch of Temperament), Pias (NPC), Ismark, son of the Burgomaster (NPC).
--​

If words alone could be a guarantee in these times, Bucren would have no need of a sword at all. But it wasn’t the stern faced bodyguard who was making him uneasy. Something about the two girls was not right. A family matter they had claimed. It felt more like some foreboding of doom. Whatever fragile tranquility Boravia was experiencing, it was about to endure an upheaval unlike any before. And Bucren knew any way out of this hellhole would come about this change. Just…what was it? And what could it be?

Pias however was unchanged as always. No amount of sympathy or promise would invoke his change. Five gold a head to enter. It was not of his concern that prowling wolves might be making a meal of them soon if they remained out here. The wee shit had a point. Bucren could curse, beat and threaten, but for all intents and purposes he was a drowning man flailing for any sort of purchase in the vast darkness threatening to engulf him. His newfound companions included. At the tip of a knife, he sighed and let go, making a mental note that if he was ever face to face with his doom, and this cunt was anywhere nearby, he wouldn’t care about the laws of men. He would make sure his face was the last Pias would see.

But for now, the little shit had the power. The door opened and Bucren dug out the five coins, slapping them on a nearby counter, making sure that one or two clattered to the ground and force that pitiless door warden to do something useful and strenuous for once, rather than blackmailing poor travelers. He snorted without apology and strode on by, pausing between some tables to let the travelers go in first. He was curious about what they would be up to, though he wasn’t sure that he had an open invitation to join them and hear their talk. Bucren wouldn’t deny that he had a curiosity for it. News from outside Boravia was rare. And besides the constant death and threat of death, it could get oh so bleak and dull in this town.

His eyes however rested on a lone patron by the door. Ismark. The poor sod, back in his cups again. Not that alcoholism was something unknown to Boravia. People needed their coping mechanisms. Some chose hard work. Others chose what little recreation there was. Others prayed and made offerings to distant and strange powers. And some chose their cups instead. It made Bucren wonder what his coping mechanism would be. Or, if he had already broken and was but a shell without knowing it. After all, what did he have to smile or laugh about these days?

“Whatever swill your pitchin’ these days, Arik.” Bucren simply gestured for himself, a coin between two fingers, tapping it on the table. As for food, he had his own lodgings where he had some rations left over. If he survived this night, he could replenish then. Better to save what little coin he had left. The door price alone set him back several grueling months of labour. And now I’m supposed to drink the extortionist priced liquor here?

“They aren’t my mates.” He retorted half-heartedly when one of the girls commented on them. He thought it was Esperanza who asked him but a second look showed it was the other girl, whose name he didn’t know. Mates didn’t exploit their fellows, trapping them between death and bankruptcy. At the invite, he moved to sit, slumping hard into the rickety chair, legs spread and his posture relaxed. His sword hilt protruded over his lower abdomen and he rested his forearm over it. Water dripped from his clothes, pooling on the floor around his boots. He didn’t mind. One grew used to the filth here, in time. He didn’t answer the offer to join the game with Katya. His disinterest would be answer enough. Instead he gave her a shrug of his shoulders.

“Every night. Though you must have brought some friends with you given how violent it is tonight.” He commented back, like conversational speech about the weather was something he had long mastered. What else could they discuss in Boravia? Anything actually, to keep away the thought of constant death.

Ismark’s movement in the tavern was as auspicious as a hewn tree toppling in the woods. Everyone would hear it and know. “Ismark.” He told the bodyguard, who reacted quite diligently at the drunken man’s approach. He merely mentioned his name to let the escort know Ismark was a known quantity and that perhaps one should keep a restrained hand. In any case there was no danger, as the short man launched into a drunk diatribe about the two girls…and their relation to Lady Ireena herself.

Bucren had to sit up straighter, all but ignoring Ismark as he looked intently at the two girls. One called herself Esperanza Sergovia, the other his name he did not know yet. How could they be related to Ireena? The girl’s name seemed a foreign and faraway thing to a place like Boravia. But like Bucren himself, it could be but an alias, or not her full name. Look at you, believing this drunkard. Bucren then realized…that he wanted it to be true in a way. Like he thought before, it invoked a sense of change. And he knew all too well that it was needed in Boravia.

“He’s harmless enough.” Bucren snapped back to the gypsies who stood. He didn’t stand in reprisal to their stance. What were they going to do? “Don’t act like you care though. Not as if you’re helping to control his drunkenness here, now are you?” He questioned the gypsies in return with a snort. But when Arik returned with the traveler’s food, Bucren was surprised when he laid out a key for them as well. Now something was definitely afoot if the barkeep was in on it. He was the center of any social development here. People always talked into their cups. Arik knew something and that only further confirmed Bucren’s thoughts about these people. Who were they, really?

He had his drink. He closed his eyes for a moment as he sipped it, letting the taste explode over his tongue and mouth, before burning its way down his throat. Maybe he should have stayed at the barn. Just continue life in an ignorant fashion.

“Well know this before you go.” Bucren said to the girls. There was no reason to but after enduring the exploitative prices, surely a little free advice would be harmless. “If there is anyone to know, it’s definitely that man. Ismark. He wasn’t always…well, you saw it. But if there was anyone in this town who knew everyone of worth or status, it would be him. A lot more sociable, before his father went off. If you got something to settle in Boravia, he’s the one you want to speak to. Him, or his sister, unless the father returns.” Bucren paused for a moment, overwhelmed a moment by the sheer implication of how badly a shitstorm might be brewing in the Burgomaster’s absence. “But he’s gone. And the Lady is in a place beyond the howling of the wolves.” He jerked his head back towards the door, before slumping further in on himself to get as comfortable as he could. He wasn’t paying for a room. Seemed wasteful when he his own lodgings to get a room in the tavern. Yet nor was he going anywhere anytime soon. Unless they wanted to go see Lady Ireena.
 

xanaphia

Philosopher? I hardly knew her!
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Ireena

Esperanza had hoped to find some sign of her parents, her family upon arriving in Barovia, but the distressed words blurted from the drunk’s mouth didn’t answer any of her questions, only invited more. Before she could even begin to ask after this Ireena or why she sent her (them?) away, or who was after them, the drunkard passed out, and the gypsies took him away, discounting his words.

Ireena

She glanced over at Katya, at the women who wore her face, with questions on the mind. Was it true? She’d said family matters had brought her to Barovia, and she’d been identified as the daughter of a citizen…

"Perhaps we should take our meal up in our room, dear sister. Then we can also change into something dry."

“Right, upstairs. I think that is best.” As much as she wanted to repeat the epithet to Katya, wanted to believe it as much as she wanted to perform for the assumptions of those in the room, she couldn’t say it back. Not with her chest tightening in longing and loss.

With a gentle hand on Xavier’s arm, she offered a smile. “We will be alright, tonight, if you stayed down here. Or, if you insist, then on the other side of the door. But you will need your rest, as much as me, for tomorrow. I am sure of it.”

Not that Katya wasn’t a threat. Esperanza had trained formally with a blade, and had some skill in it admittedly, but Katya didn’t seem to type to follow the strict rules of a proper duel. No, Esperanza had little doubt the other would use anything to her benefit in order to survive. Even if they were sisters.

The accommodations were bare, two smallish beds crowding the smallish room. Esperanza dropped her belongings on the one closest to the door, and immediately coughed as a cloud of dust puffed into the air. Not that she could complain too much, even if she’d paid an arm and a leg just to enter this inn, and another to share a room with a woman who may very well slit her throat to avoid sharing her inheritance.

Her eyes didn’t waver from Katya as she lowered herself on the bed. Tense silence lingered and grew over the span of several heartbeats, before she decided to ask her questions. They were going to have to start somewhere, right?

“Is it true? Is this Ireena your mother? Are we actually sisters then?” She tried not to hope as she speak the words, tried not to believe in foolish fairytales of her youth. It was everything she’d wanted, for so long, but she had to be careful.
 

xavierrol

Supporter
Supporter
Joined
Aug 24, 2013
Location
Ohio
As was often the case, Xavier ignored Esperanza's wishes and headed up the stairs two at a time to ensure he led the way. He had told her enough times over the years that he worked for her father, not for her, that it seemed unnecessary to remind her at the moment. He tested the locked door, ensuring it was relatively sturdy and appearing satisfied stepped away for it to be unlocked, but made certain to enter first. He was not unaware of how this might annoy Esperanza, nor was he completely insensitive to the emotional context of what was going on around them. At times he enjoyed the girl's confidence but he always left her to come to him not him approaching her on such matters, besides her physical safety had to be ensured if she was going to live long enough to sort out her feelings.

Whatever view this rather uninspiring room might have once offered was now boarded up as it seemed was every other window in this land. Xavier opened the dirty glass pane and inspected the sureness of the planking. This was more than one would need for simple wolves, no matter how many or how hungry. There was a mystery here that needed sorted, one that neither girl had the answer to, at least not yet. Seeing the dust in the air from the room Xavier smiled at Esperanza, amused at how she might adjust to such poor accommodations. "I shall take my supper downstairs but will be just outside tonight." With a familiar almost fatherly tone, the warmth drained from his voice as he continued. "Do not open this door for anyone but me."

He turned to the most lovely of dopplegangers and offered a "Sleep well" though most of his message was conveyed with his eyes. If anything happened to Esperanza he would find her and make her pay. It was not the first time Xavier had to leave his charge to share a room with someone he didn't trust but at least this one had two beds, such as they were. Though he couldn't avoid a most impure image of the two of them naked and entwined in each other's arms. It was a sinful weakness and he tried to shake the image from his mind, though perhaps not with the zealousness it deserved. He would need to have faith in both girls tonight, he may not know all that was happening here, but it was clear their fates were intertwined in a much more complex way than his image.

Faith.

The word had been so clear to him for most of his adult life but it felt almost devoid of meaning in this land. He would like to think himself secure in this fortified inn, that those on this side of the fortification could be trusted to hold true. The way that Bucren's fellows treated him and the mood in the inn made folly of that belief. He didn't know who to trust but at least he might learn a little about this place over supper. As he came down the stairs he approached the bar, his eyes scanned their guide drinking alone at a table. Approaching the owner he held up two fingers "two bowls" he said and threw his own coins on the counter. "Bring a bottle and two glasses to the table." He instructed as he threw more coins down and carried the two bowls to Bucren, setting one in front of him.

"Save that swill for cleaning your wound." He offered as way of advice as their bottle arrived. He doubted the quality of the wine but almost anything would be better than the primitive distillations of such a place. "I'm no healer but I spent enough time on the road without one to know a thing or two." It was his indirect way of offering help but he wouldn't push it much further than that. Though a bowman without two good arms wasn't much use, his motives were for the most part altruistic.

"The second floor windows are boarded as well, these are some extraordinary wolves you have here." It was a question spoken as a statement, trying to disguise his interrogation as idle discussion, as if they were discussing the weather. Xavier would be more interested in listening than talking but would offer enough conversation to get what he wanted to hear.

"Those holy symbols back on the barn, do they work against these wolves?" He asked, then followed with a reflection of his own. "Symbols can be powerful, but that power comes from faith, without faith they are just graffiti." He didn't feel it necessary to add that faith seemed to have fled this land.
 
OP
Black_Out

Black_Out

Purveyor of Dark Delights
Joined
Jul 9, 2018
At the Estate of the Burgomaster​

Elrick stood by the heavy set of double doors that led into Ireena's bedchamber and watched as Andrei vanished down the steps into the darkness and gloom of the foyer. He heard his compatriot gather up a spear from the rack and he found himself taking a half step to join him but dragged his boot back into the room. Worn fingers tightened around the handle of his rapier as if trying to squeeze the fear and loathing that was so deeply settled in his heart out through his hand. The winds that had blown across the stone face of the manor were falling away as well. Even the sound of the wolves diminished. Where once they could be heard approaching in a gruesome chorus towards the estate, now only lone and distant cries filled the growing silence of the night. It meant one thing, the wolves were right outside the manor, stalking, looking for a way inside.

The shriek of one of the dire wolves just outside caused even the hardened heart of Elrick to jump and skip a beat. Andrei it seemed had struck the first blow this night, which was as good omen as any in the senior guards mind. Still he knew there were far more of those wolves then the pair of them could handle if they should manage to break through any of the barricades. In the back of his mind Elrick sensed that the Devil was playing with them. Letting each nightly reoccurrence of this siege sap at their courage, shatter their resolve, and snap their spirit in two. He had a feeling that if their foe wanted this to be over, it would of been long ago.

He couldn't turn away from the doorway and the shores of darkness that lingered at the bottom of the grand sweeping staircase. Not that he physically couldn't, he just could not allow the fair lady he was charged to protect see the doubt and hopelessness that was clawing at his heart reflected in his eyes. The lean muscles of his face tightened as he forced his lungs to swallow a full breath of air and hold it within. Finally he let the breath flow slowly and gradually out of the thin lips of his mouth before he turned, composed anew towards Ireena.

"Your not selfish, m'lady. None of this is your doing. None of it." The faint marks of the crows feet at the corners of his eyes grew more prominent as he looked upon his charge as she huddled along the wall in the flickering candle light. "I don't blame you one bit for wanting your loved ones at your side and it saddens me that Ismark chooses to not be here." His eyes fell to the floor in shame at having stated such. "But I worry about him. He hasn't seemed rational of late. Even before your father left, he seemed to be a distant reflection of himself." Sternly his boots padded across the room, bringing him to a shuttered window that he gazed out of. "The darkness of this place has taken your brother I fear, like it has taken so many others." His fingertips pulled the slats of the wooden shutters open further as he scanned the waves of sparsely moonlit fog that stretched out over the land as far as the eye could see.

Outside the rains had lessened further into a cool mist that fell over the lands and seeped into the endless blanket of fog. "That is why I choose to be here. Where light still dares to shine against the darkness. I would give my last breath, like the others have, to see that it is not snuffed out by the hand of our enemy." Elrick sneered as he watched the fog covered shapes of the massive wolves patrolling along the walls of the manor. "Giving up is the easy thing to do." His eyes pulled away from the window slats as he looked with a sense of determination in his eyes upon Ireena. "It's also the selfish thing to..." His words failed to complete the spoken thought as Elrick turned his head to the left and right as the soft dancing light of the candles in the room fizzled and faded to black.

Before the words could leave his lips the stout pair of wooden doors that led away from the regal bed chamber and out onto the catwalk and grand staircase beyond were swung shut by some force beyond comprehension. The booming sound of the heavy doors closing was followed by a single click of the lock being set that echoed down the stairs and through the rooms that made up the ground floor of the manor. In the blackness of Ireena's room Elrick turned towards the groaning of the balcony doors as they began to slowly open inward, letting the soft mist of rain and moonlight waft into the fringes of the room.

"Andrei!" As soon as the distressed scream left his parted lips an abyssal flood of small flying ebony forms that made the natural darkness in the room seem almost light swarmed into the room through the open doors that led out onto the balcony. They swirled like a vortex throughout the chamber, circling around the room like a blur of black paint being spread and flung wildly about. "Ireena! Stay pu.." It was the last sound to leave Elrick's lips as the sharp sound of bone snapping and a muted gurgled grunt of shock came from where Elrick stood. His hand relaxed, letting the long silver rapier slip free from his normally reliable grasp to bounce and roll across the floor.

As swiftly as the bats had surged into the room they began to disperse back into the night. Spiraling out of the open doors as if a drain had been pulled that funneled them back into the misty embrace of the night. Small wisps of flames hissed back into existence upon the candles settled in sconces about the room, shedding the weaving dance between light and shadow back into motion throughout Ireena's bedroom. They washed across the shape of Elrick, and though his body was facing hers, his head was fully turned, most disturbingly, away from her.

A shape that seemed made of shadow loomed behind him. Tall and broad of stature and dressed in the regal attire of royalty. Despite the lack of any significant breeze to cause such movement to occur a cloak of midnight black with a bold blood red underside that seemed to stretch and shift in the shadows flowed about him. Pale and waxy thin fingers with elongated blackened claws were sunk in around the sides of Elrick's head, keeping the dead guards body from falling to the floor in a heap. Glowing red eyes that belonged to a feral yet handsome angular face hovered above the twisted around head of Elrick and stared upon Ireena where she stood, frozen in place along the wall.

"Oh, my tortured heart, how it bleeds for you, Ireena. You reflect her beauty, almost perfectly." With a thump, Elrick's lifeless body collapsed upon the floor at the feet of Strahd Von'Zarovich as his eloquent and rich voice sounded softly over the rising chaos that was erupting outside as the wolves bayed in unison at the moon. "Come to me, Ireena, I have waited long enough and will wait no more to have you as mine." His words sounded ancient, filled with an accent of the past that had long since died from the lands of Barovia. "There is nothing left to suffer for here and you have nothing to fear from me. I bring to you the gift of eternal life, ageless beauty awaits." The sounds of his seductive tongue rang not only in her ears, but in her mind as Strahd glided towards her, fangs baring as the red in his eyes intensified. "Come to me, Ireena, and be at my side to greet your daughters when they return to my lands."

At the Blood on the Vine Tavern
Eight doors, numbered one through eight we're aligned across from each other on the second floor of the Vine. Evens lining one side, and odds along the other from low to high. As fate would have it room three was situated next to room five where the drunkard Ismark was being settled in for the night by the pair of grim faced gypsies. They left him there in the room, barely giving Xavier a cold glance over as he tended to his charge before they made their way back downstairs to the silence of the card game.

The beef stew, if one could call it that, had strands of sinewy meat that had to be searched for in the depths of the sliced up potatoes and carrots that crowded the bowl. The broth itself was rich, warm, and full of garlic, parsley, thyme, and surprisingly well seasoned with salt and pepper. It was the sort of meal that was perfect for a cold and rainy night as it stuck like glue in the stomach and warmed the chill away from the bones. The accompanying bread was cold and stale, but the porous loaf soaked up the savory broth like a sponge. All in all it was good enough to make one forget just how watered down the wine tasted to the tongue.

As the twins spoke upstairs in relative peace and quiet within the confines of their small, dusty, and cramped shared quarters the sound of Ismark groaning from the next room over seeped through the wall. Incomprehensible mutterings and the occasional slurred curse seemed to make up the vast amount of the mans ramblings. Soon though even those muted sounds from their neighbor fell away and we're replaced with the snorting buzz saw sound of his snore.

Downstairs the men sat around their table, glancing at their cards, sliding meager amounts of poor mans coins across the table into the pot. They seemed to pay Bucren and Xavier no mind as they passed the time away without much interest towards anything other then the delicate click of a clock that hung on the wall besides the mirror behind the bar. That was where Arik returned after serving the two men their stew and bread, and bringing them a bottle of Barovia's finest watery wine and two goblets. His skeletal thin features focused on a routine that seemed to have no end as he resumed his chore of polishing every wine glass to a perfect shine, even the ones that were already sparkling.

The small antiquated wooden clock ticked onward, it's peaked top covered with a layer of dust and cobwebs that covered most of the taverns dull and sparse décor. It was Eight fifteen, or so that was the time the slow moving hands on the clock claimed it to be, when the first sounds of danger could be heard from beyond the barred up entryway into the Vine.

It started with a snort along the bottom of the door that turned into a low growl. The sound of a paw raked across the face of the wooden door causing the gypsies to pause their game as they looked towards the sound. Pias was closest and the wiry young gypsy shifted quietly out of his chair and took silent steps over towards one of the shuttered windows where he peered between the cracks to gain a view of what was outside. His face contorted as he turned back to look to his comrades, holding up his hands and extending all of his fingers out wide. He flashed his fingers a few times to get the unspoken point across for the number ten as he mouthed the word -wolves- slowly a few times.

The threat lingered briefly, just over ten minutes by movement of the clocks long dark metal minute hand as Pias kept a tentative watch from the thin crease between the boards as the wandering pack moved through the square to some other destination. He let out a deep breath as he sighed and murmured in a faint whisper that wasn't addressed to anyone in particular. "They went south, haven't seen that large a pack in months." With a resigned thump of his rear he dropped back into his chair and took a deep swig from his wine, washing the residue away on his sleeve as the game resumed.

Time plodded onward, leaving those gathered in the paranoid taverns walls to wait out the night. The twins sat in seeming safety upstairs in the flickering candle light of their shared room. The snoring of the man next door had grown into a chorus for their quiet conversation as nine o clock came and went. By then the bowls of stew were emptied of their contents, every last morsel swiped up by the edges of the stale loaf of bread that came with the filling meal. Even from upstairs though the young ladies could hear the commotion echoing up to them that came next to the front door of the Vine.

The panicked rapping of a fist on the front door caused the men at the card table to jolt upright in their chairs. Shock and trepidation strained across their faces as they stared towards the door while their hands reflexively fell to the handles of their weapons. "Please, please." The desperate yet moderated cry of a woman's voice sounded from the other side of the doorway into the Vine. "Please, let me in." There was sheer terror in the ladies voice as she pleaded with the door and those beyond it on the other side. "I have gold. Please, gods, they're coming." She sounded on the verge of tears as Pias looked between his companions, bit his bottom lip, and moved to look out one of the various spy holes to the foggy moonlit square and the mysterious lady begging to be let inside.

"Oh, please! Someone let me in!"
 
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Lady Bloody Ava

Ravenclaw Prefect
Supporter
Joined
Jun 25, 2010
Location
Hogwarts
Elrick kind in attempting to console his Lady. In the time that the guards were established as the security for Lady Kolyana, she had come to know the men and women very well. With each death is was painful. Elrick would be no exception. He had been especially comforting in her father's absence. Soft lips parted to thank the man that watched over her, but the sound of the door shutting and the light of the candle simultaneously blew out lodged her very heart into the confines of her gullet. It was happening. Someone was going to die. At least one person was doing to die.

That back was flush against the wall and while luscious lips remained parted and the daughter of the Burgomaster tried to scream but no noise sounded. Even bathed in the moonlight the frightening countenance held a ghostly allure to it. The swirl of darkness circled the room and now she screamed. Head ducked with hands behind her head and eyes closed as that elusive scream rang forth and nearly lost the sound of Elrick yelling her name to warn her. Gold-colored eyes looked up just in time to watch Elrick's final living moments.

It felt as though all the air had been sucked out of the room and the malevolent creature before her left her to stare into those wicked eyes that vied for attention. Ireena wanted to shout to Andrei to stay away. Silently a hot stream of tears flowed down from the corners of eyes that unknowingly got her deeper into this dilemma than she knew. Why did she not grab the rapier as it fell? Why did petite feet feel as though they bore the weight of the world? These questions would haunt her, but those eyes...

That voice.

The hot stream of tears seemed ever flowing and that veil of tendrils shook, along with her head in denial as the lifeless corpse of the man that had tried to console her mere moments ago was dropped to the floor like a useless ragdoll. "This is not happening..." Despite such words, those eyes looked directly into the blood red sinful pools that were this monster's eyes. The sound of the wolves howling resembled a lullaby in her mind as it proved difficult to look away.

That voice was a symphony and sent a crescendo of warmth to bloom from the depths of the cold-blooded fear. The tears ceased and there was a tunnel vision that had warm eyes seeing nothing but the dark and regal looking being before her. Seconds felt like an eternity. An overwhelming cocktail of feelings washed over her mind; empathy, trust, and an overwhelming thirst for knowledge. Primal instinct to defend or run were numbed and disoriented to a hazy feeling that had her wanting to actually join this being who had just murdered a dear companion of hers, without a second thought.

Lengthy lashes grew laden and cloudy eyes were hidden by lids as the lovely curve of her neck was exposed without a seen force. It was a silent surrender, though not one of her own free will. "Strahd." His name uttered in an almost pleading manner. Pleading for what? His love? Her death? For a means to end this hellish nightmare? Who knew?

Andrei... please...
 

TheCorsair

Pulsar
Joined
Dec 17, 2013
The wolves didn’t stay.

Andrei watched the burning green eyes turn in his direction, as if they’d heard and understood his comment. And then they loped out of the darkness, building speed as they raced towards the barricades window.

This was how Petrov had died. The wolves, hurling themselves against the barricade until it gave. He and Elrick had been too late to help him, and had barely driven the beasts back out of the manor. But Elrick wouldn’t be fool enough to aid him now, not with Lady Ireena’s life in his hands.

The barricade shivered with impact, snarling and scrabbling sounds echoing as the wolf slid down. Then it shivered again as the second wolf hit. Andrei swallowed, hands tightening on the shaft of his spear. “Morning Lord,” he prayed. “If I live not to see the light of day, grant that I may awaken in the dawn of Thy glory.” And then he lunged, driving the spear through the loophole with all his might.

The shaft shivered with impact, and the snarling gave way to a keening whine of agony. Andrei twisted and pushed, feeling the shaft jerk as the wolf spawned and twisted, trying to snap and rip at the hard wood. “For Petrov,” he snarled, leaning on the shaft to hoist the wolf into the air. “And fuck you.”

There was a deafening crack, and suddenly he was flat in his back. For a heart-stopping instant he was convinced the barricade had given way and the wolves were in him. But even as the panic surged through him, the truth sank in.

It was the spear shaft that had broken.

Heart racing, he peered through the loophole. All of the wolves had withdrawn. All save the one he had killed. It lay in a furry heap, broken spear erect. Weak with relief, he sagged against the rough wood. He still lived.

Andrei!” Elrick’s cry was distant and barely heard, but the terror in it was clear.

Andrei sprinted through the darkened halls of the manor, tossing aside the broken stump of a spear as he went. “Elrick!” he shouted, flying up the stairs to and three steps at a time. “Elrick! Lady Ireena!”

The bedroom door was locked, and he could hear a voice through it. A man’s voice. He didn’t recognize it, but it could only be one man. One beast. “Lady Ireena!” he cried, slamming into the door. But it was too solid. Too strong. “Lady Ireena!”

He grabbed an axe off the wall and hewed at the door, sending chips of aged oak flying. Strahd. The devil Strahd. It had to be him, in there. He redoubled his efforts, finally driving the heavy blade through the wood. “Lady Ireena!”

The door gave way as he hacked and kicked, finally flying open into a scene out of nightmare. Elrick lay crumpled, dead or nearly so, and Lady Ireena stood helpless before the demon beast that had terrorized Barovia since time out of memory.

Andrei hurled his axe, only to see Strahd catch it and toss it aside with a contemptuous smile. He clawed his dagger from his belt, a foot of razor-sharp alchemically-treated silver hard as steel. “Get away from her,” he said, unable to prevent the fear that twisted his gut from filling his words, “you bastard.”
 
OP
Black_Out

Black_Out

Purveyor of Dark Delights
Joined
Jul 9, 2018
His glowing red eyes were nearly as mesmerized in the moment as those of his intended prey. The sound of her heart beating, rapid and full of life's vitality thumped in his ears like a drum. A deathly cold gasp of wanton breath fled from his pale and parted lips at the sight of her exposed jugular. In Strahd's blood red gaze it was as if the fountain of youth ran through the side of Ireena's neck and it beckoned to him to drink of it freely.

With unnatural grace and swiftness he was upon the damsel plastered in terror upon the bleak stucco wall of the dimly lit bedchamber. Long arms that were draped in smooth dark cloth from centuries past closed in around the forested green gown that clung to the cold sweat of Ireena's pale flesh. His embrace threatened to suck the warmth from her long before he tasted the succulent crimson nectar that rushed through that prominent artery. Within in moments his agile arms held the limp form of Ireena with all the care that one would show towards a dying loved one. His right hand shifted through her long locks of ripened corn colored hair and formed a pillow for the back of her head to sink against. The other hand pressed along the dip of her spine along the back of the dainty women who seemed all but weightless in the ancient grasp of the devil of Barovia's hands.

The candles about the room splashed trickles of light across the vampire's back as he hunched over the dazed body of his helpless quarry. Moonlit shade fell in around the pair as the shape of Strahd's shadow rose up along the wall and then sank in as if was going to join the feast as well. The sound of Andrei at the door, frantically trying to gain entry through the locked doors at the entrance of her bed chamber seemed a distant sound to Strahd as he tilted his head back and opened his mouth wide. Ivory fangs glistened in the unnatural moonlight floating about them as the moment seemed to freeze before Strahd struck.

Intense pain pierced just beneath her ear, high up along the side of Ireena's presented neck. Welcomed rapture immediately followed, blowing away the short lived feeling of agony that left her breathless. The taste of her was intensity in it's purest form and Strahd began to drink with equal fervor. The sound in the back of his mind grew as the pending intrusion from the double doors of the ladies nightly sanctuary gave the creature reason to pause. Someone was hacking through the door with frantic swings from an axe. The last of the manors guards no doubt. His mouth pulled away with a vengeful hiss even as the tint of his waxy skin warmed with the boldness of life. Daggers of angered red stared perfectly through the darkness surrounding him towards the pair of doors that buckled at the head of the room.

His shadow showed his rage first as the doors burst open and Andrei stumbled through them into the room from the force of his efforts. It's metamorphosis was a premonition as the shape of the black blotch smeared across the wall sprouted wings that bled out across the walls as a form most monstrous ascended up the wall and out across the ceiling. As the shadow threatened to close in all around Andrei a shape that was no longer that of the vampire lord in all of his finery emerged with a deafening roar and caught the hurled axe in mid flight. The axe was tossed aside, left to stick in the wall as the devil smirked with bared fangs upon the man before him.

The few trinkets of faith that adorned the room burst into flame as the creature hissed. "Your - god - is no - longer - here!" His voice sounded with a guttural gut wrenching boom as that regal creature was gone and something more befitting of the shadow surged forward. It's skin was thick leather of a deep olive hue that glistened with a sheen in the light of the candles that now danced madly about the interior of the room. Sinew and muscle formed the sculpture of the beast that rose up out of the shadows. Footfalls which seemed to bear the weight of anvils struck upon floorboards that groaned under the weight of their impact. Wings that belonged on a bat the size of a bull stretched across the room and scrapped against the rafters of the vaulted ceiling. Red eyes that burned like they were twin gate ways to hell settled on Andrei, who's normally towering figure was diminished by the monsters presence.

"She - is - beyond saving - now!" The monstrous face hissed as its features contorted with the fury it was about to unleash. Thin nostrils of its ridged and flattened nose flared as its arm swept forward and swatted at Andrei with the force of a titan. "As - are - you." Moments before the blade of silver could come to the mans defense the swift blow cracked across Andrei's chest like a timber being swung through the air. Like a sack of laundry tossed aside, Andrei flew backwards through the air and smashed into the wall besides the sundered doorway. Strahd barely watched as the breath puffed out of the guards lips as he slumped to the floor, his dagger scattered to the far corner of the room.

With a risen fury he turned back upon the body of Ireena. She laid there, sprawled across the wooden floor, lost in the rapture of his infectious bite. As his thunderous step drew him closer he paused as he caught sight of a narrow mirror that hung askew upon the wall. There was no reflection to be seen upon it's smooth surface, but Strahd knew the image it would of presented all the same as the mirror shattered in an explosion of glistening shards and fragments that fell to the floor. They sounded like an ensemble of symbols that taunted at the heart strings of the beast as it turned it's head in shame and swept its arm across its face to cover its hideous visage from the blonde haired woman of the manor that laid before the curled talons of his feet.

"Not - like - this. See me - not - like this." He growled into the crease of his arm and with a bellowing cry that was equal parts despair and anger the creature fled out through the open balcony doors. His form broke into a cluster of swirling ebony as a wave of bats took the place of the beast as it vanished into the moonlight foggy night beyond the balcony of the manor. Outside the wolves howled in sorrow.
 
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Touch Of Temperament

Super-Earth
Joined
Dec 29, 2012
Katya's smiled deepened as she moved up the stairs with Esperanza, hips swaying lightly. Xavier was ahead of them, if as Esperanza hadn't so gently suggested he stay downstairs. And she made no mention of it. What was between those two? More than a servant and their employer surely? Was that longing she had seen in the Boulder's eyes? Esperanza had been gentle and warm to him, and allowed him to guard over her like a hawk, but their interacted lacked sexual chemistry so far? Of course, Katya didn't know them, had only observed them for a short while. Amusing herself by observing the two of them now, she shrewdly watched as behind them the drunken man was carried in the room right beside them. That's where they could find him, as soon as he woke from his stupor.

The room wasn't much. Not that she was expecting much from the look of the rest of the inn and the welcome they had received so far. It was small, and could use a thorough cleaning. But it was dry, warm enough, had beds and gave the two of them to speak in relative privacy. On the other side of the wall they could make out the snores and mutters of their intoxicated neighbour. At least they would know the moment he woke. Raising an eyebrow, she met Xavier's eyes bold and unafraid. Even as his words were polite as ever, there was no missing the threat in his expression. Baring her teeth slightly she returned in kind, telling him just as politely. "Good night Xavier." She wasn't planning to hurt his precious charge. That wasn't necessarily her thing anyway, but if she did, his threat wouldn't stop her.

As soon as they were alone, she turned to the girl who wore the same face as hers. Time for answers. Katya just couldn't believe the coincidence of receiving the letter and meeting Esperanza on the same day, on the same gig. She could feel Esperanza's eyes on her, but she waited. There was a pregnant silece before the other girl finally talked.

“Is it true? Is this Ireena your mother? Are we actually sisters then?”

Annoyed and disappointed, Katya studied Esperanza's face, still waiting before she said anything. Just testing what the girl might say further to fill the silence. But there was no more. The careful hope in Esperanza's face might have been heartbreaking to another. Katya found she was starting to believe it. Esperanza was either a very good actress, or she was just as clueless about these development as Katya herself. Swearing inwardly, she raked her fingers over her hair. She had been so convinced Esperanza had been part of this plot and that she could provide her with answers.

"Argh.. You don't know anything about this? What a bloody coincidence, you join my crew for this trip and we look exactly alike? Don't you have a family in Krotice, miss Sergovia?" With a sigh she decided to go another route. If they were both trying to figure this, they should information. Be allies, at least for now. "This is all news to me. And we need to sort out the lies. Show me the other letter again."

"I'm adopted. Nothing remains of the orphanage I came from, no records, no caretakers, nothing. All I have are dreams of this place, dreams calling me back here." At the mention of the orphanage, Katya looked up sharply. They could've found out about Katya's background easily, but there was something she said. Or maybe the tone she used was believable. Things were starting to click in place, making the idea that they were sisters or at least related more plausible. What were the odd sof two orphan girls in Krotice of the same age with the same face? But then why had no one at the orphanage ever told her anything about a sister? Why was she left behind and the sister adopted? Katya, like Esperanza, had always been told there was no information about her past. But if they lied about a sister, they might have lied about more. Katya didn't have dreams or memories of her life before the orphanage though. As a child she had had nightmares of a dark place. But it could have been anywhere. A sister, fuck a sister. She didn't exactly know how to deal with this information if it were true. Katya had always been by herself and by now she preferred it like that, only taking the random man to her bed when she felt like it. Esperanza took out the letter, passing it to Katya without hesitation and breaking her from her reverie.

As Katya rolled out the two letters next to each other bending over them. "What does your letter say?" Esperanza asked her. Katya didn't immediately respond, simply scanning both letters. The wording, the handwriting, the signature. Definitely not the same author. She could feel Esperanza by her side, looking over her shoulder. Finally she glanced at her sister, maybe, and said. "What are the odds the body your man found is the dead burgomaster?"

"Seems likely. The letter he had warned the reader to stay away, but the letter you received bid you to come here." Someone had purposefully lured her here, had lured them here. Had they known or ensured that Esperanza would come too? Katya chewed on the inside of her lips as Esperanza gave voice to the exact same questions, she had been asking herself. "Why were we sent away, and why are we being lured back now? Why aren't we supposed to be here, as the burgomaster's son said?"

Katya just looked at the wall pointedly, where on the other side the drunk was sleeping off his drink. "Seems like we will have to wait for morning for answers." Whether they were sisters or not, Esperanza had the right idea on that. They would have to try to get to Ishmark once he woke. Katya's mind whirled with all these new, possibly revelations on her life. Still it was easier to focus on the letters and Barovia than think too long on the likelihood they were sisters. It raised too many of questions of its own. Complicated and painful ones too.

"At least we'll know when he wakes. And the barn guard can lead us to this Ireena, which is where we should go next. If anything I want to talk to this woman. Seems it all comes down to her." Another idea occured to Katya. A slow smile spreading over her lips as she looked at Esperanza again. "You know, we could break into his room. See if he has anything on him, that might answer some questions before he sobers up."
 

BennyQ

Supporter
Supporter
Joined
Nov 3, 2013
Location
Canada
Name: Valery Bucren.
Location: Blood on the Vine, tavern of Boravia.
Tagging: Xavier (xavierrol), Pias and the other gyspies.
--​

Bucren knew a bribe when he saw one, eyes following as the bodyguard returned, along with a bottle of wine and two cups. Not that he was unwelcoming to the idea. Nor unaccustomed. In fact it was usually Bucren doing the bribing to get anything extra out of Boravia, since most saw giving or telling him anything to be a waste, since he too was an outsider. But what information could he offer up? It wasn’t as if the townsfolk trusted him with any real secrets. Though perhaps in that moment, he knew enough, at least in general information, that could be very useful to an outsider. But something was compelling him to speak regardless of wine or other bribes. Ismark had said something very strange indeed. Those girls looked just like Ireena he had said. Well forget the wine, Bucren was more interested in an information-for-information deal. And no doubt this man had more answers than anyone else in Boravia had about the entire ordeal with the Lady Ireena and her supposed daughters.

“Lucky you. Shoulda stayed there.” Bucren commented with his usual dry tone when the escort commented on his experience on the roads, half-grinning. Better out there than in here. A spike of nostalgia and sorrow welled up in Bucren for a second, missing his own adventurous days before he got stuck here in this miserable shithole. The second floor windows are boarded as well, these are some extraordinary wolves you have here. “So you’ve noticed.” Bucren responded with his same sardonic voice, folding his hands over his lower abdomen, intertwining his own fingers. He was still slumped back, watching the other man, waiting for the true question, which was soon forthcoming.

“The only faith in Boravia is the one people have in their steel and iron, which you can see isn’t all that great to begin with.” Bucren remarked first, though it wasn’t entirely true. Some people still believed. You had to do something to help stem off the constant threat and presence of death, which could easily be coming for you next. “No, those symbols are for something far worse, and intelligent, than wolves. You never saw anything…else on your approach up? I never trusted in magical symbols myself. Trust in the people you know. Like the Burgomaster. He’s the one you want to speak to. When morning comes, I can show you the way.” Thunder still clapped outside and Bucren paused for a moment, raising his glance to look up at the ceiling. Not for the thunder, but again in thought of Ismark. It was a violent night out here. Why wasn’t the man with his family?

He paid little attention to the food or drink either. It was the greatest foolery to forgo a meal in Boravia. But Bucren felt as if he had no appetite that night. There was excitement jolting in him and not the good kind either. More of an anxiety than anything. A man and two girls entered Boravia not an hour ago and Bucren felt like the place had flipped over on itself. There were too many strange occurrences happening at once. “Look friend - what is your name anyways? - you clearly know something I do not, and I know something you do not. Why don’t we quit prevaricating about the bush and-“

His attention was jerked abruptly when he saw Pias making the symbol. At once Bucren straightened in his chair, hands at his side, one gripping the hilt of his dagger while he dropped his bow and quiver to the side, to help loosen some weight on him. He didn’t say a word, watching the gypsies first and gauging their reactions. The tavern fell silent enough to almost hear one’s own heart beat. The prowling of the wolves therefore felt as profound as the drums of thunder above. No, this was very different. They didn’t often come in this far and in so many numbers. He glanced back to the man across from him again. These three had something to do with the increased violence lately. Bucren didn’t believe in fate, but there were far too many coincidences happening this evening that was shaking that skepticism. And what the gypsy woman had once said to him when he first arrived…

Then came…the begging. A womanly voice, desperate and scared, pleading to be let in. She had gold by all account, though by watching the door warden he wondered why these greedy bastards weren’t jumping on that. Wasn’t their entire pricing strategy based on coaxing people very near to death for all they had? It was too much for Bucren. He got up to his feet, thrusting his chair back. “You heartless bastards, open the door. What’s the matter with you? Are you scared? There’s one of her, a dozen of us. If she’s something else, I’m sure we can put her down.” He only lifted a hand to Xavier, asking for a moment, as he stepped to the gypsy’s, to Pias in particular.

“You leave her out there screaming, it might draw something worse than wolves. Let her in so we can shut her up and get through this night in peace. Or do you want me to open that door?” Bucren said, taking another step towards the door, fully intending to open it and see whoever was screaming outside. It didn’t sound like any woman he knew in Boravia but with the volume of outsiders they got today, he wouldn’t put it off as another traveler just stuck out there in a shitty time.
 

Lady Bloody Ava

Ravenclaw Prefect
Supporter
Joined
Jun 25, 2010
Location
Hogwarts
A shadow of coldness engulfed the entire being of the Burgomaster's precious daughter. Unlike that body, her mind was abuzz with a hypnotic warmth with thoughts that leaned more towards empathy. Where that warmth welled from, she had no clue. Her body did not resist and actually yielded to the touch that felt almost loving. A head of golden tresses rested against the powerful hand that cradled her head. The sensation felt akin to floating in the air. A sharp gasp ripped forth from parted lips was followed by a swift moan and euphoric sigh. Cold ivory teeth pierced that delicate flesh and yet Ireena felt happy to the point of addiction. This feeling was unlike anything she had ever felt.

In the back of the lady's mind was the rhythmic pounding of her heart. The pulsing coursed through her mind as precious lifeblood was drained in such an eloquent display. The sound of the door being hacked away sounded faint and barely registered to scrambled senses. Briefly did her mind succumb to the effects of this age-old being who sought to have his way with the woman who looked so much like the love of his former life and maker Lady Ireena his for all eternity. That Andrei had made it through the doors was completely lost upon the woman. How she would have cheered and cried at his victory and his survival of the moment were she in her right mind.

Those eyes were laden and when attention was no longer on her the woman's body slid down the wall she had been taken on and went lax upon the floor. There was no running or trying to distract the beast to provide an opening for the one valiant guard left. Instead, her mind and body were far from lucid and trapped in a state of uncertainty and ignorant bliss. Eye felt weighed by anchors and it even felt wondrous to close them. Time seemed lost upon her. Eyes flickered open to see the Lord of Barovia in his raw and bestial form, and yet she did not. Closing those eyes, no doubt felt far better than trying to hold them open so once more they shut and welcomed the darkness.

A powerful gust of wind whipped through the room at the sudden departure and blew golden tresses over the fresh bite marks upon that regal neck. Aside from touseled tendrils, the Lady appeared to be fine and breathing. A shiver took over her form before the guard's charge completely struggled to hold on to what semblance of consciousness remained. The warmth seemed to slowly fade away and the distant noises grew slightly more noticeable as time carried on. That lovely body was a heap upon the floor with wolves lamenting just outside of their walls.

Poor Elrick. Lady Ireena would have been a sobbing mess at the sight of his unsightly body lying upon the floor, highlighted by the moonlight spilling through the open balcony doors. Another life lost and the current center of attention to this mess was ignorant of the events that had just transpired between her Strahd and Andrei.
 

xavierrol

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Aug 24, 2013
Location
Ohio
If Xavier got little satisfaction from Katya's response, Bucren's was downright hostile. Was the man simply so distrustful that he couldn't except an honest offer of help for an arm that was only going to get worse if left untreated? He wanted to exchange his own vulgarity in exchange for the harsh words the wounded guard repaid his kindness. But he remembered that not all men had the benefit of his experiences in the wider world and the trust and kindness of Esperanza's father. Considering the overall temperament of this land, it was a wonder Bucren was as civil as he was. No, he would remain the bigger man and not exchange insult for insult. Xavier didn't yet know that Bucren was nearly as much an outsider than himself in this land and certainly it had worn off on him. The man was of little use in explaining the wolves either and Xavier was about ready to take up his post outside the girl's room when he got his first bits of useful information and decided to stay a bit longer.

"Steel and iron, well there are stronger things than that in this world. "Your compatriots back at the barn, they seemed eager to abandon you. Do they have faith in each other then or do they treat all their comrades as if they were easily expendable?"

"Besides this most unnatural fog, the only thing we saw was the murder I had already told you about." He replied again, still not revealing the supposed identity of the victim. He didn't feel it was an untruth as he wasn't sure himself and there was no point spreading rumor and half truths about the town. They might well learn the truth once Bucren made good on his promise to take them to the Burgomaster in the morning. "Yes it would be most enlightening to hear from him in person." Xavier nodded in agreement.

"My apologies, my name is Xavier, Xavier Rollins." He replied, though his surname would likely mean nothing to anyone, anywhere but still it was all he had left from his family. He thought for a moment that he might be making a connection finally but then another threat emerged. The room fell even more silent, if that were possible, to the point one felt they could hear their own heart banging in their ears as they tried to be as silent as mice.

The silence only accentuated and intensified the sudden panicked pounding on the door. Even Xavier jolted noticeably at the sudden noise. The desperation in the voice was enough for Xavier. He looked to the door keeper who was moving towards the door but apparently only to spy and apprise the situation. Xavier stood, approaching Pias from behind, he looked behind him at the gypsies at the table, assuring himself they were not coming to their compatriots aid. "I'll do it myself damn you." He drew his sword with one hand and began to unbolt the door with the other. His look if nothing else communicating to Pias that he interfered at his peril. Xavier made himself ready for whatever might come through that door besides the frightened woman begging from the other side.
 

xanaphia

Philosopher? I hardly knew her!
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Roiling emotions warred in Esperanza's mind. Katya may indeed be her sister. Ireena might indeed be her mother. Everything she'd wanted her entire life was within her reach now, her blood kin. Her family. But that realization, joyous as it might be, resulted in some guilt as well. The Sergovia's were her family, too. Had raised her, even though she possessed no realtion to them. And even at her most cynical, she knew it wasn't just so that she could propel their name into the hierarchy of nobility.

"You know, we could break into his room. See if he has anything on him, that might answer some questions before he sobers up." Katya wore a devious smirk on her face, showing an audacity that impressed and thrilled Esperanza. This glance into her possible sister's inner working was just as intriguing as her suggestion to get answers now, damn the wait.

"I'm not sure I can sleep tonight, not with the questions I have running through my mind," Esperanza offered in agreement. But it wasn't just the questions that left her on edge. Not with the driving rain and booming thunder and hideous howls of hungry wolves. And what she hoped were just hungry wolves. No, she was far too kayed up to sleep, and now far too keyed up to argue with Katya.

Commotion from downstairs seemed to consume the entire inn. If they were going to go through with this crazy plan (though, really, was it much crazier than anythign else they'd done, including coming to Barovia in the first place?), now was the time. While the desperate begging from outside held the attention of everyone else. Esperanza slipped from her room, and down the hall, watching the stairs and glancing into the main room of the tavern. Everyone was focused on the door, Xavier and Bucren demanding the woman be let in. She turned back towards her sister Katya, and nodded, as if to give her permission for the other women to break into Ishmark's room.
 
OP
Black_Out

Black_Out

Purveyor of Dark Delights
Joined
Jul 9, 2018
While chaos began to build around the doorway Arik remained quiet and watched from behind the bar, still polishing away with a rag over one of the crystal clean goblets. The rising tension in the air didn't go unnoticed by the gaunt barkeep as he shuffle stepped his way to the right, towards the open kitchen door. It certainly didn't go unfelt by the trio of gypsy's seated around the card table who were already starting to slide their chairs back in preparation for whatever may come. By the time Xavier had drawn his sword Arik had silently slipped through the door and had mostly vanished from sight into the kitchen. In the flickering candle and fire light only the white of his wide eyes could be seen peering out from beyond the opening, watching and waiting as the events unfolded.

The young gypsy in charge of the door felt rather diminished the moment he found both Bucren and Xavier coming to the aid of the mysterious woman pleading to be let in. Naturally Pias raised his hands and showed his open palms to the men as he tried to disarm any hostility that might be released upon his person. "Look fella's, it's the same thing we did when the lot of you came to the door." Pias tried to sound as calm as he reasonably could while he delicately inched his way towards the side of the door. "You wanna let her in, that's fine, I was gonna, but she's gotta pay the toll." The weasel faced gypsy glanced between the two far more hardened and seasoned men. Pias lowered his right hand, keeping his open palm upturned along the side of the door in anticipation of the upcoming exchange of coins. "Keep your voice down lass, and have your coins ready." Pias hissed at the door as Xavier drew close to unclasping the array of locks and bolts.

With the variety of commotion taking place downstairs the sounds of the twins moving about up above were well covered. The lock was simple and with a few flicks of her hairpin Katya had it opened. Garlic hit the girls noses the moment the door opened and the smell only grew more pungent within. The snoring of Ismark didn't cease as the pair of young ladies stealthily pushed the door to his room open. One fat white candle kept the modest room dimly lit and revealed the filthy upkeep of it's resident. Clothing that would of been nice had they been cared for at all laid in random disarray about the room. Ismark was sprawled out on his side on top of the covers of his queen sized bed, the deep nasal rumble of his snoring caused the drool forming at the corner of his mouth to bubble up across the surface of his lips. Faint shafts of moonlight filtered in through the narrow gaps of the boards that covered the single window in the room. Knots of garlic hung in the place of draperies from the barricaded window. Ismark twisted about, repositioning himself as Katya and Esperanza tiptoed their way into the room.

Like the twins room there wasn't much in the way of furnishings even in the upgraded room of the Burgomaster's son. A simple wood table covered by a dirty and wine stained white linen was next to the head of the bed. Two wine bottles rested on the cloth cover, one empty, the other nearly so. More bottles of wine had gathered across the top of the dresser, next to the fat white candle. Even more bottles littered the floorboards, mixed in with Ismark's discarded garments. Jutting out from under the falling covers at the foot of the bed the twins could easily notice a sturdy looking small metal chest. Ismark muttered in the depths of his drunken slumber while a momentary silence from downstairs gave some clarity to his dreamy murmured words. "You'll ruin everything."

The murmur of the woman's voice came soft and filled with a breath of panic from the other side of the door as Xavier got to the last of the half dozen bolts that kept the entry sealed. "Hurry, please." There was a gentle jingle of coins from a tiny satin bag that she held at the ready. "I have the gold, just let me in." And as soon as the last click of the bolt being disengaged sounded, all hell broke loose in a flash of violence at the door to the tavern.

The sheer force of something that was both far stronger then Xavier and equally unexpected caused even the veteran warrior of the roads to stumble backwards a few steps as it was shoved open. Standing before the mists that fell across the town square outside of the tavern was a dainty woman of exotic beauty. The soft blue light from the nearly full moon only seemed to exaggerate the paleness of her skin as her right palm rested on the face of the door after having shoved it open with a single hand. A thin and delicate looking ensemble of white lingerie paired with a flowing wafer thin night gown of porcelain hue drifted about the abundant curvature of her alluring shape. The ember glow of her eyes quickly drifted from Xavier, to Bucren, before locking onto Pias.

Even in the brevity of that momentary eye contact Bucren could feel the sensation of being swept up by those faintly glowing eyes. Xavier fortunately had been spared, but by the time he was able to gather his feet beneath him the vampiress moved with the speed and grace of something far from being human. Her free hand tossed the tiny coin pouch into Bucren's chest before grasping Pias by the slim wrist of his waiting open hand. "Have your coins." As that stunned sensation that had briefly frozen Bucren in place fell away when her eyes drifted to Pias the woman's mouth opened wide, revealing the long slender ivory fangs that sprouted within.

The sound from below was a jolt of pure panic as Pias screamed like a frightened child. In one fluid moment the door had been tossed open and he was practically tugged off his feet and pulled outside. His right hand caught on the edge of the door as he cried out as he looked back into the soft glow of the open tavern door with utter terror etched across his face. "Help me!" He shrieked in agony as the supernaturally strong mistress of the night sunk her fangs into his forearm and tasted of him. The grasp of his right hand loosened where it clenched desperately to hold onto the frame of the door as the vampiress prepared to drag him out into the waiting fog that filled the square.
 
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TheCorsair

Pulsar
Joined
Dec 17, 2013
Andrei revived in stages, beginning with an awareness of pain. A sharp pain in his ribs as he breathed, and a throbbing pain in his skull, and a dizzy nausea. Wakefulness meant pain, and he tried to seek the welcoming relief of black oblivion once more. But the pain, sharp and dull and insistent, nagged at him mercilessly. Reminded him of something...

Someone...

Lady Ireena. And the Beast that...

His eyes snapped open and he tried to stand. Nausea rise as his vision blurred and swam. Concussed, he thought, struggling to maintain his balance. I’m concussed. What had Elrick taught him about that? He was so tired, and it was hard to think.

Stumbling in the darkness, he tripped over something. Pain flared as he struck the ground, injured ribs flaring and screaming. We’re they broken? No, he fuzzily decided. Just... cracked. Still bad. And what had he tripped over?

A moments groping in the blackness revealed the grim truth. Elrick. He’d tripped over the still, cooling body of Elrick - another victim of the Beast, no doubt. He fought back grief, searching now for the Lady Ireena. Mourning could come later. For now, did she live? Or...

No. He put that fear from his mind. She lived. She had to.

The clouds parted, allowing the silver light of the moon to fill the room. It wasn’t the blessed gaze of the Morning Lord, but for now the radiance of His consort was welcome relief from the darkness. He fiund Lady Ireena swiftly enough with Her blessing. Found her still and pale in the moonlight, with blood and the marks of inhuman fangs into n her skin.

His heart filled his throat as he crawled to her side, then swelled with relief. She breathed! And her pulse was sluggish but strong. She lived!

Cautiously, he tried to rise once more. Nausea and dizziness made him clutch the wall, but it passed - enough to keep standing, at least. Stumbling, he recovered his silver dagger and tucked it into its sheath. Then, gritting his teeth, he lifted Lady Ireena and hissed as pain stabbed through his injured ribs.

The journey to the Burgomeister’s chambers was a thing out of nightmare. A stumbling journey through darkened halls made grim by the awareness of the Beast’s invasion. Every step sent knives through his ribs, every step made the shadows shift. His every sense strained against the darkness and his dizziness, anticipating some bestial horror to emerge from the shadows.

Somehow, he made it. Somehow he slid aside the bookcase in the Burgomeister’s study, revealing the priest hole it concealed. He sobbed in agony as he laid Lady Ireena on the cut within, then sagged against the wall as he lit the candle. It illuminated a small chamber, one designed to hide the family in times of emergency.

This was one of those times.

Tugging the hidden door shut, he sagged against the wall and slumped to the ground. Gripping the hilt of the silver dagger, he prayed for dawn.
 

xavierrol

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Aug 24, 2013
Location
Ohio
With the unnatural force of the door flying open, Xavier was pushed back out of the immediate opening. His mind couldn't quite register what was happening but he knew the he had made a very big mistake. There was no time to dwell on that now though, he only knew that he had to do what he could to try and make it right. He had invited an overwhelming and unknown power through one of the defenses between Esperanza and the terror of the Barovian night. The puzzle of what was happening was only highlighted by the delicate flower of a woman that seemed at the center of this maelstrom. The Sergovian family guard had been spared the direct eye contact with the unnatural beauty whose attention had shifted to the other two men near the door. As the coin pursue hit Pias' unprepared body it fell heavily to the floor, what was once so important to the man in what may be his final moment suddenly became worthless.

Xavier's eyes went wide when the pale beauty showed the fangs of a beast and gripped the frightened doorman as if he were a rag doll. The man shrieked with agony as his blood showed on the lips of a creature Xavier would have dismissed as mere superstition just minutes before. Perhaps that was why Bucren didn't warn him outright, who would have believed? Xavier took a brief moment to cross himself with his free hand before reaching out with an iron grip to secure Pias' arm on the door post. Despite his strength he could feel he had no chance to break the man free. Nor could he as yet bring himself to run the scantily clad beauty through with his blade. In the desperation of the situation his body reacted even before his mind could devise a plan. With well practiced form the blade rose and came down, slicing cleanly through Pias' bitten arm just above the elbow. With all his strength he pulled the nearly doomed man back into the tavern, hoping that Bucren would be quick enough to close and secure the door.
 

Touch Of Temperament

Super-Earth
Joined
Dec 29, 2012
Katya smiled, nodding her head slowly as Esperanza agreed to her plan of breaking into the drunk man's room. The other girl certainly rose a few points in her esteem for joining her on this little venture. She was willing to bend the rules to get to answers as well and Katya could respect that. Perhaps they had more in common than she thought. As they moved into the hall Esperanza automatically took watch at the top of the stairs, allowing for Katya to kneel at the door of the adjacent room. Compared to other things she had done, this was peanuts. But they were in Barovia now, and she was starting to realise anything could happen.

Something was going on downstairs, that was clear from sounds of commotions drifting up the stairs. It certainly hadn't been like that when they had left them. If she wasn't picking a lock, she would have joined Esperanza to take a look. She had other priorities right now though. Whatever it was, it meant no one was too worried about what was going on upstairs. She would have to trust that Esperanza was a decent lookout and would tell her anything she needed to know. The prospect of breaking in gave Katya a focus like nothing else ever had. In no time at all she heard that familiar little snick and felt the lock give under her hairpin. Even though it had been a simple lock, it was still a little rush to have a door open to her that would've otherwise remained closed. Triumphant she looked at Esperanza, nodding to indicate they were in. Slowly she opened the door, careful to keep it from creaking or any other inside. A strong, pungent aroma met them as soon as they were in the door opening. Something sharp and spicy, Garlic? Katya raised her eyebrows, there hadn't been this much garlic in the food they'd gotten. She would've smelled it then. A man with a special diet?

Gently she stepped inside, her eyes on the drunk's snoring form. She moved without a sound and it seemed, he was too far gone to notice them anyway. Relaxing just a fraction, she looked around the room. It was clear from the room, this man had been used to other people tidying up around him. Confirming her earlier observation that he was rich, rich enough for this kind of finery and servants. So what was he doing in this dump of a place, drinking himself into the stupor? The locals seemed to be used to him. Down on his luck? Whatever it was, he was in a charming position. Dead to the world and drooling. And she'd found the source of the garlic smell, it was a peculiar choice for decoration though. She thought back to the Burgomaster's letter and the vampyr it mentioned. Was this part of the local superstition?

Now where would he be hiding his interesting things. This time she was looking for letters or something like a diary, rather than the more usual valuables. So far all she'd seen was clothes, garlic and, mostly empty, bottles of wine. With one long heave their target rolled over and Katya froze for a second, lifting her hand to indicate the same to Esperanza. She waited until his breathing resumed its rhythm before her hand lowered again. Slowly she crouched down by the bed. Glancing up at Esperanza, she pointed at the metal container under the bed. It was the most promising thing in this entire room.

"You'll ruin everything." The drunk murmured and Katya smirked. If he hadn't hit rockbottom yet, he surely wasn't far from it right now. Couldn't be much left to ruin.

With one hand she lifted the covers to get a better look at this container. Slowly, she slid it out from under the bed. This thing looked like it could take a beating. Sturdy box like that would probably be locked. Raising her head she looked around. Her eyes met Esperanza's and she mouthed the word "key?".
 
OP
Black_Out

Black_Out

Purveyor of Dark Delights
Joined
Jul 9, 2018
Thin strands of cobwebs kept Ireena and Andrei company. They hung from the walls and ceiling, wafting about as if the dim breeze from the narrow vent was a strong wind. In the pitch black confines of the small hollowed out stone hideaway it was difficult to discern if there were spiders amongst their midst. The occasional sensation of a minute insect crawling across their skin in the stale blackness suggested there were spiders or other such vermin. Though paranoia could just as easily be blamed for such trickery of the senses.

How long would it take for dawn to come? Andrei was uncertain of that exact answer when he first began to pray to see it once again. The muffled gong of the Burgomaster's grandfather clock chiming ten times from the seemingly distant study that laid just beyond the bookshelf finally informed the guard that the night was still young. So the prayers continued as he sat in the silence, resting his back against the uneven stone wall while he waited for the lady Ireena to recover.

Slowly but surely her breathing seemed to ease and the bite marks hidden away under the strands of her lush golden hair had scarred over. Whatever pain or euphoria she had felt had evaporated away as the daughter of the Burgomaster began to regain her senses. Just in time to hear the squeaking of the rats. The lowest of his minions.

In the silence that had engulfed the manor they were easy to hear. Scurrying about the floors and in between the walls. Squeaking, scratching, sniffing as they scoured the manor. But their shelter remained undiscovered for now, despite the sound of the rats just beyond the bookshelf that concealed them. Eventually the clock from the study would chime the eleventh hour, but that moment seemed to be an unfathomable distance away.
 
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Lady Bloody Ava

Ravenclaw Prefect
Supporter
Joined
Jun 25, 2010
Location
Hogwarts
Ireena's mind was in a whirl of hazy bliss as the one remaining guard moved the lady's listless body from the room. For now, the thoughts of poor Elrick getting his neck swiftly snapped and dropping dead to the floor was nowhere in her clouded mind. The tempestuous words of the vampiric lord echoed in her mind. The waves of compassion and desire resonated within her being and left her wanting to give him her all. As her body was laid down and her savior sat against the stone wall, the fog of Strahd Von'Zarovich slowly receded and pang struck the temple of her mind like a ringing bell. Simultaneously the eerie sensation of something crawling on her caused the woman to sit up with silence gasp.

It took a second for eyes to adjust to the light of a single candle. The palm of a single hand cradled the front of her fore to somehow steady the sudden feeling of fear, confusion, and dizziness. Sensations bum-rushed the lady as she caught sight of Andrei and heard the sounds of scurrying mice. If the two of them were here then something big had happened. It almost brought her to tears when she realized that she could not even remember anything past that vampiric beast killing Elrich. The hand moved from her head and pressed over her heart to still the pain. Even in silence she prayed and counted what few blessing she had left. Andrei was still alive. She was still alive, for what is was work. At this rate, the Burgomaster's daughter still believed that so many deaths were not worth hers alone.

The sound of the clock going off made her want to groan. Ireena felt annoying refreshed while Ireena could only hope that exhaustion would make Andrei get some sleep. Even without a word uttered she could tell that he was in pain. The noblewoman waved to Andrei in a silent plea to lay on the cot. It would come as no surprise if Andrei refused. These men were always married to their duty and only recently did it drive Ireena to the brink of madness when they put her above their own lives. In these times there was nothing better to do than pray. Pray that Andrei lived to a ripe old age. Pray that her daughters were living in ignorant bliss. Pray... pray that an end to this horror would come sooner, rather than later.
 

BennyQ

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Supporter
Joined
Nov 3, 2013
Location
Canada
The out of towner’s comments on the actions of his so-called compatriots brought a pause to Bucren, as if such a reality where one’s own neighbourhoods weren’t eager to cut your ankle so they might better escape the same threats seemed a strange thing. It had always been so in Boravia, from what he could recall. Any life he had before it seemed as fluttering as an uneasy dream. “Each man for himself, I suppose. Isn’t it the same everywhere?” He simply answered that vaguely. No one had faith, not in each other and little for outsiders.

There were murders uncounted in Boravia, though Bucren tolerated the fact that the man before him wouldn’t know that. He wasn’t asked any question about the fog or the murder so Bucren didn’t offer any comment back, though he did learn the man’s name. “Welcome to Boravia.” He said after the greeting, toasting his cup to the man with a dry grin.

He wasn’t quite sure what to make of Xavier drawing his sword when it came to the issue of the girl at the door. Bucren kept his own sheathed for the moment, not intending to use it until absolutely necessary. It seemed an art form in Boravia though, one’s ability to escalate to the point of violence or conflict when it came to any sort of dealing, to push until one blinked or backed down. Or it was met with the clash of iron. Everyone walked that fine line between life and death in Boravia so the bluff didn’t count for much, unless one followed through with the threat. As much as Bucren hated the gypsies and wished them ill, he never came to blows with them. And why should he now? And why shouldn’t he? Sheep followed the norm. But at most Bucren was a black sheep if anything, aloof, yet stuck with going with the tide.

But now there were others.

He wondered if little Pias would go toe to toe with this outsider over the door. Well the man’s boldness could be commended. Bucren only followed his example, moving a few steps ahead, not drawing his sword but watching Xavier’s back by eyeing down the companions of Pias. Try and intervene, he dared them. But there it was, the offer of gold to be handed over, as the locks nearly came undone. Did they really have to hold the individual by their balls over the roasting pit of death just to evoke a little coin? Let them in and once in safety, Bucren was certain they would happily pay. “You see? All this heartless bullshit for a bit of coin-“ Bucren started to sneer at the other gypsies, until he saw who it was at the door.

Now there was certainly something amiss. This many fair maidens in Boravia all on one evening? But he found he could neither speak or move when those piercing eyes locked on him, if but for a heartbeat. A heartbeat was all it took. His tongue felt stuck to the top of his mouth, while his arms stayed limply at his side, as if full of lead. He was put in a trance, though the urgency and truth of the figure behind him was wrought all in his eyes.

He couldn’t speak on it though, not even to warn the others. He couldn’t even react, even when the coins were thrown at him, but the moment they struck his chest and slumped to the ground, the spell seemed broken. He gasped, as if breathing for the first time and looked down at the pouch. Yes, all for these coins. He bent down to fetch them but it was the wrong move. He jerked his gaze up when he heard a very unmanly cry for Pias, who was seized by the strange enigma. As much as he hated the little shit, this wasn’t a fate he would wish on the poor man.

Vampire!

Xavier acted first. Bucren had the same instinct, albeit a few paces behind. He quickly moved up, though every second seemed fleeting and precious. Too slow he felt. And yet he must. Xavier saved Pias, though by dismembering his arm, and Bucren brushed past to slam the door shut. He immediately turned to put his back against it, using his weight, before remembering to slam and bolt the many locks. He immediately moved away from it next, expecting the vampiress to come barging through again. “Now you saw more than a murder.” He commented to Xavier.

You exited and came back in. That’s five gold coins a head he wanted to say to Pias. Yet remembering his childish scream Bucren felt pity for him. Now he was missing an arm, poor sod. “Put some swill on that.” He said, referencing Xavier’s own advice, leaving the care of the wound to others, like Pias’ friends. Maybe he’ll learn how selfish they are if they don’t help him, as they seemed content to let him die. And yet he and Xavier would probably go thankless for this deed. He gave Xavier a nod though when the other man met his eyes. He did good, acting so decisively. And took the risk to help another. It had been a while since Bucren saw such charity. It almost…shamed him.

“Vampires.” He told Xavier soon after. “Something must have stirred them. I swear she sounded just like any maiden from this place. Or even like Mad Mary…” He shook his head, running his hand over his face before looking at it. He hadn’t even drawn his weapon. He was getting too complacent. He grabbed at the pouch of coins the woman had thrown at him, upending it on a table and letting whatever contents, whether they be real gold or not, spill onto the table. Vampire gold. It was probably cursed.

“You and your compatriots seem to be bringing this storm, rather than the other way around, I’m starting to think. Mine just kick me out. Perhaps we should trade?” He offered up a sardonic grin. “First Ismark knows them, and now this.” He loosened his sword in his scabbard. He was definitely using it next time.
 
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xanaphia

Philosopher? I hardly knew her!
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
As soon as the door opened, Esperanza covered her nose. In small amounts, garlic smelled lovely, enhancing most dishes it was in. In this case, it reeked, overpowering the cramped room and even the stale alcohol.

Whatever commotion consumed downstairs broke into a fever pitch, screams and thuds and the clinking of coins. Whatever was happening down had gone bad, and Experanza had no desire to be a part of it. She closed the door tight behind them, gripping the handle to prevent it was making a sound, and then locking it behind them. Whatever the case, they wouldn't be easily caught in Ishmark's room, not before they got some answers they sought.

The only thing of note appeared to be the chest, and Katya mouthed the words that was on her mind as well.

Key. Where would he keep a key? Not in a drawer, surely, where it could be discovered while he were out of the room. She checked, just to be sure, shuffling about his possessions, but they held nothing of value to her or Katya. No, likely a man as paranoid as Ishmark kept that object securely on his person. With a sigh, Esperanza approached thh bed.

Upon the cover, Ishmark snoozed, the staggered snort of his snores loud in the confines of the room. Deeply asleep, right? Inching closer, Esperanza held her breath, hoping to approach unnoticed, and to avoid inhaling his stench, but froze as he murmured sleepy words. "Shouldn't be here... ruin everything..." Again, she shifted closer, brushing her fingers over his jacket. Nothing in the breast pocket, and only coins in the front pouch. He lay on the other, and but Esperanza refeused to be deterred, squeezing her fingers under the heft of his gut to feel in his pocket.

Something hard rested in there, somethign she couldn't quite reach. More of her hand slid between his body and the bed blindly groping for the firm items hidden within. She grew bolder, kneeling now on the mattress, but his worked against her, shifting him closer to her. She pushed against the object, hoping to slid it out of his pocket, if she couldn't get her fingers in, but stiffened as he gripped her arm in a steel vice. "Shouldn't be here!" he cried out again, meaty digits digging into her flesh, but he did not wake. Instead he rolled over, adjusting her arms to use as a pillow.

Once the triphammer pulse of her heart calmed down, Esperanza tried again, sliding her fingers into the new exposed pocket on his left side. She curled a fist around the now warmed metal object and eased it out of his pocket. A tattered, old key caught the low light of the room, orange and yellow dancing on it's reflective surface. This had to be what they wanted, wasn't it? She held it up for Katya. "Shall we?"

Giving her but a moment to respond, Esperanza dropped to her knees and pushed the key into the lock. They'd come this far already, she wasn't about to stop now.
 
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Black_Out

Black_Out

Purveyor of Dark Delights
Joined
Jul 9, 2018
If his initial scream was loud when the vampiress sunk her fangs into his arm, what followed when his arm was severed was a few decibels beyond even that. Curses old ones and new ones just born in the moment flowed from Pias's mouth as Xavier drew him back into the safety of the tavern. Blood gushed and spritzed from the arteries of his severed arm, leaving Xavier and Bucren with some fresh stains of crimson. Already the doorman's face was turning pale as he entered a state of shock.

For a brief moment the visage of the pale skinned beauty outside the tavern could be seen receding into the thick fog that obscured the town square of Barovia. There was a look of scolding annoyance towards the closing door as she held Pias's severed arm upwards, letting the blood that remained stream and fall down into her waiting lips. She drank from it in a care free and clumsy manner, leaving more then enough of the blood to thin out and wash down her chin and throat. It bathed her chest red and flowed through her impressive cleavage and staineed her elegant nightgown with the red hue of Pias's blood. As the door swung shut she squeezed her free hand down the length of the dismembered arm as if milking it for every last drop of that crimson plasma.

Arik retreated fully back into the kitchen as the gypsy's moved with a purpose towards their screaming comrade. Two of the men swept in and gathered Pias away from Xavier, clasping a hand over his mouth to silence the blood curdling cries and curses that flung from his lips. As they dragged his convulsing and flailing body away towards the kitchen at least one of the gypsy's seemed to offer a quick nod of thanks towards both Bucren and Xavier. The last of them moved up to the window that Pias had been spying out of just moments ago. His jaw set something fierce as he stared through the narrow gap that let him spy out into the moonlit fog. He didn't gaze for long though before he directed his gaze towards Xavier and Bucren. "She's alone, I think." The eldest of the gypsy's muttered as he fiddled with the worn handle of a curved scimitar at his side.

Upstairs, Esperanza quickly got the key into the lock and with a turn the lock clicked and the metal lid of the chest was opened. Simultaneously the twins peered into the red velvet confines of the open chest and saw a jumble of valuable coins and gems. But most interesting of all was a single item that laid across the bed of modest riches. An intricate ivory handle wrapped with sturdy yellow leather across the grip. Fanciful patterns of the sun and its rays were inlaid in gold across the hilt, while the carving of an ivory lions head in the midst of roaring made up the pommel of the handle. Artfully etched across the bottom of the handle where it merged into the pommel was the name deGrey.

As the twins took in their discovery the screaming fit that Pias had unleashed woke the portly drunkard known as Ismark from his slumber with an alarming swiftness. Abruptly he sat up, jostling the bedside table as his hand fell upon it for leverage. The pair of wine bottles perched there fell to the floor with a crash as they shattered into fragmented shards. "Shit." He murmured as his torso wobbled and swayed while he collected his wits from where he sat along the edge of the bed. Then he saw the girls.

His blood shot eyes went wide as he stared at the twins with his mouth hanging agape. "Fuckin thieves!" He hollered as he rose to his feet, stumbled across the room, and slammed into the dresser which sent more wine bottles tumbling to the floor. His hand swept down to his side for a sword that he realized wasn't there so Ismark opted to grab a wine bottle and hurled it awkwardly towards Katya. "Help! Thieves!"

Back downstairs the pair of gypys's had taken Pias behind the bar and were busy applying a makeshift tourniquet assembled from one of Arik's wash cloths around the profusely bleeding stump. The screaming of Ismark from upstairs was disregarded by the gypsy's as they convened near the entrance of the kitchen and tended to Pias. A sudden jolt from the front door though demanded their attention as the vampiress beyond the door spoke to the gathering in the tavern in mocking sweetness.

"You pour me a glass of his blood, set it outside this door, and I might forgive you all for interrupting my meal." The sound of her sharp nails could be heard scratching across the wooden face of the Vine's front door. But then her voice came from the vicinity of a boarded up window that was nowhere near the door. "Or better yet, just toss him back out and I promise that I'll forgive you all." Her voice came again from yet another window far removed from the one she had just sounded from. "Deny me, and I'll return with my sisters and we will feast on you all." The sound of her laughter came again from the front door and faded as the vampiress drifted back into the mists. "You have ten minutes to toss him back outside to me, or I'll be back with my sisters and oh how the blood will flow."
 
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